While most developers use GitHub to write and share open source code, fund companies such as Coinbase Ventures, Distributed Global, and Digital Currency Group are investing in an encryption-based alternative.
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Consensus former currency expert Harrison Hines founded a startup called Terminal and served as CEO. The company completed $3.7 million in seed round financing by the end of 2018 to develop a developer center dedicated to decentralized applications (Dapps). The center quietly went online this summer and is conducting a soft launch this week.
Haines told Coindesk that unlike Microsoft's Github, which needs a quick solution to use smart contracts, Web3 developers will be able to deploy software directly from the Terminal platform. Projects like MakerDAO Stabilized Coin Lending rely on smart contracts (software that automates business logic) to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies. MakerDAO engineer Vamsi Alluri told Coindesk:
“For large ecosystems like MakerDAO with a large number of smart contracts, Terminal allows us to tailor precise entry points to developers based on their needs.”
Terminal Chief Technology Officer Janison Sivarajah told CoinDesk that the platform was designed for Web3, an acronym for Internet that consists of applications that are not hosted or controlled by a single entity. Siva Raja said:
"Once a smart contract is actually deployed on the blockchain, it's a live object running on top of these decentralized protocols. People need an interface to display them, view their data, and interact with them. On GitHub Not above this."
Terminal also offers limited node services for free and connects directly to external infrastructure providers such as Infura or BlockCypher.
Ethereum enthusiasts often use "infrastructure" to represent running nodes and provide blockchain data as an external party to the service. Unlike Bitcoin's plug-and-play hardware node options, most experts believe that running an Ethereum node with a full archive is cumbersome. Token experts say that in order for Dapp to become mainstream, the industry needs more independent node operators and easier access to node data. Siva Raja said:
"You have to run nodes in all of these test or development environments, and users can use the managed nodes we provide because it's cheaper and easier to get started. But you can set up your development environment to your own infrastructure."
To be clear, Terminal does not intend to compete with INFURA, the API provider of ConsenSys. Haines told CoinDesk that he had filed a lawsuit against ConsenSys founder Joseph Lubin, accusing the former employer of owing $13 million in unpaid profits and bonuses, but the lawsuit has now reached a friendly Court settlement. Haines said:
“We sincerely hope that every project of ConsenSys will be put on Terminal and let them use Terminal. I believe that we will have the opportunity to cooperate with many of them in the future.”
Terminal adopts this freemium business model because it wants the model to be like GitHub, and some developers will eventually choose to pay for advanced support services. Jacob Evans, an exchange founding 0x engineer, told CoinDesk:
"Reminders and notifications are just a feature of Terminal, but this is the most developed feature that can help 0x developers. In addition, Terminal has many nice features that can help developers develop in prototyping and hackathons. Most importantly, developers can experiment and experiment effectively."
Sivalaja said that for such experiments, in addition to running the private test network name, Terminal also runs about seven different nodes to support the blockchain project.
“The Ethereum contract can be easily deployed to any other network using the EVM (Ethernet Virtual Machine) blockchain.” Siwaraja said he estimates that 24 networks are currently using EVM, “we will also See which other frameworks are getting attractive."
Attraction will be the decisive factor. According to Dapp.com, there are currently no more than 2,000 daily users that are attracted to Dapp based on Ethereum.
Will the user pay the bill?
Johnny Steindorff, a Distributed Global partner and a terminal investor, said some of this is related to how many manual operations are required to maintain a reliable Web3 application. He told Coindesk:
“I think middleware is one of the biggest opportunities today to drive the development and adoption of mainstream blockchains.”
In fact, BlockCypher's CEO, Catheryne Nicholson, told CoinDesk that "the infrastructure of running Ethereum is very painful." At present, her company has thousands of customers, both rogue software developers and enterprise development teams, using this paid Ethereum API service.
Haines said that as more and more companies provide economic support services throughout the ecosystem, start-ups can avoid this kind of trouble and focus on their core competencies. He added that Terminal is currently launching an A-series, with the goal of eventually providing a self-hosted platform for developers who don't want to rely on centralized websites.
BlockCypher's Nicholson points out that "most developers need to back up," because if an Ethereum API provider fails, the development team needs another. She concluded:
"This big cake is not a company that can be eaten all. The normal operation of this ecosystem requires multiple companies to maintain."